Sexy, saucy, and full-on Parisian, somewhere out of the forties and swizzled up with a dash of glitter and Josephine Baker African razzmatazz—Louis Vuitton came like a cathartic, mood-enhancing cocktail at the end of a long, grinding season. Or as Marc Jacobs, working slicked-back hair and a sharp-shouldered pinstripe suit, had it backstage, "Little Parisienne princess, no?"
Well, yes and no. As a piece of fashion defiance in the face of incoming depression, this densely worked, heavily accessorized collection held inspiration for far more women than just leggy teenagers. Where recent Louis Vuitton collections have fallen into either confusing high jinks or an exclusionary high style (like last season's eighties reprise), this one—with its multitude of tiny, flippy skirts; obi-cinched waists; glittery sweaters; padded-shoulder jackets; and elegant wide-leg pants—had something to seduce everyone.
What held it together was the pitch-perfect spirit of the will to dress up in tough times. It was a suggestion rather than a theme, but there was something here of the plucky glamour of women in wartime Paris: a Deco-era palette sparkled up with showgirl glints of metallic python and crystal; crepe kilts spliced with windows of dotted net in the rear for naughty jeune filles; sculpted-shoulder blazers and graceful high-waist pants for grown-up mesdames.
And then there was the mesmerizing sight of a zillion accessories. A slew of tribal-art references came in necklaces, earrings, and stacks of bangles and amazing shoes loaded with sproutings of feathers and plastic collages of abstract African faces. The bags were back in sumptuous array: tactile, poufy shapes glowing with mixed-material suedes and multicolored metallics, python, and leopard spots. Quite brilliant.